To every college student who is dreading returning to their hometown for the summer, I’m sorry. I’m sorry the place you grew up isn’t one of happy memories. I’m sorry the place that is supposed to be your home isn’t comforting to you. I’m sorry the feeling you experience when returning home isn’t one of joy.
I thought I would be ecstatic to come home for the summer and finally be away from all the stress that accompanies college. But I experienced quite the opposite. I felt like crying the day I had to come back to my small hometown, and I have been counting down the days until I leave ever since. I’m not sorry I don’t love my hometown. Why should I be, when growing up I’ve never felt like I belonged here?
I want to make one thing clear before I continue: even though I wasn’t happy to be back home I was still extremely happy to see my family. If anything, they’re one of the only good things about being back home.
Living in a small town is great for most younger kids growing up, being around familiar faces all the time and keeping the same friends for years. But what about the kids who could never find their “group?” For those kids, it’s hell. You feel like you don’t fit in with any of the established friend groups; and if you don’t, you’re out of luck since there aren’t a lot to choose from.
I never found my “group.” As a kid, it bothered me a bit but I don’t think I fully grasped that I just didn’t fit in. As I got older it got worse. During middle school, I began to become aware of it, and in high school, it became painfully more obvious. Even if I was apart of a “group” I never felt like I belonged. Do you know how lonely of a feeling that is? You feel like you have absolutely no one you can talk to. Your “friends” expect you to be there for them but when you need help they’re nowhere to be seen. I talk to less than five people I went to high school with now, and all my other “friends” I had in high school I haven’t talked to since. Coming home for the summer is just a painful reminder that I don’t belong in my hometown. I don’t fit in here, and I never will.
My one piece of advice to all the other students who hate their hometown: get out. Choosing a college that barely anyone from my high school went to was probably the best decision I have ever made. Going from a school with less than 1,000 people in it where everyone knows everyone to a school where there are over 50,000 people and most people don’t know each other was like a breath of fresh air. There are so many different groups of people that it’s almost impossible you feel like you won’t fit in. I finally feel like I belong somewhere.
The day I am finally able to move out of my hometown for good can’t come soon enough. But until then I’m counting down the days until I can return to college, for that is the place that actually feels like home.